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Matt Eddy

Sharpen the saw

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 11, 2011

A fan of Steven Covey or not - you have to admit that there is some benefit to taking moments every now and again for some self-maintenance.


Teaching Agriculture is a peculiar profession sometimes -- in that we usually don't get a lot of time to reflect upon what it is we do.(or at least I seem to be off to the next project as soon as I get the last one done).


Particularly to take a step back, breathe for a bit and take a look at the overall picture.  Our summers are not spent at the beach or the golf course, but with SAE's and Fairs; not relaxing on the porch, but tending to our chapters.  Taking a few moments to reflect on what we have done and what we still wish to accomplish is imperative to improving our craft.


My favorite Roosevelt quote is Sometimes the best prize life offers is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.  It seems that Agriculture Education could be the poster child for that particular quote.  We often have plenty of projects on the back burner, and a few waiting in the wings to come out as soon as we think we have one challenge mastered.  I don't know why this seems to be the case with Ag Teachers, but we seem to be gluttons when it comes to taking on challenges.


While I am supervising a student teacher this spring,(see what I mean) I find myself working on all those "C" list projects that never gotten up too the plate during the regular part of the year.  It's a really different experience to finally get a chance to tackle those projects.  I secured some new lab tables / cabinets for my (mostly) unfurnished lab.  We are going to make some improvements that will make CASE and other scientific aspects of my courses exceptionally easy to do.  I can't believe it actually will come to fruition -- and actually, the hardest part is being patient because I want to teach in the improved facility NOW -- and none of that would have been possible if I hadn't been roaming around the school to give the student teacher some 'room' to 'earn her spurs' as the classroom teacher. (I am a horrible hover'er, because my main computer is in the classroom -- I'm practically tethered)  But since I was able to be 'out and about', some coversations and a couple coincidences happen to fall into place and 'viola' -- we have updates to my lab.


So, remember while your packing that schedule full and planning every moment of every day -- block some time for YOU!  Find that activity that keeps you enjoying life and refilling the energy level that it takes to be an Ag Teacher ---


Don't be afraid to sharpen the saw -- and remember -- if it were easy, everyone would do it.


Week #5 winner was Westwood FFA -- I'll try to get in contact since you aren't publishing an email. (another blog for another day)


Congratulations and thanks to everyone for playing along.


This week should have some great stuff going on as we burn feed for caloric content, pack our Altoona baskets, and have STATE CONVENTION on Thursday and Friday -- see what I mean about Ag teachers always having about 7 things jamming along at one time.


Later --

Thanks to everyone who played along and I hope I brought some levity to your existences.  I know that I got a good chuckle out of many of the responses.


Congratulations to last week's winner - Michael Peiffer.


After the hoopla of last week, fighting a head cold this week and actually trying to teach today...  I'm bushed.  I was holding this for last, and what would a caption blog contest be without two great pictures like this??


Keep the captions coming. Take your pick this week.(I couldn't decide)  Qualify your response with #1 or  #2.  (No pun intended) Last chance.


Que sera sera - ME



Matt Eddy

Teach Ag Day Safari

Posted by Matt Eddy Mar 23, 2011

How will I spend my Teach Ag Day? -- doing what I try to do every day -- Have fun and see if I can't make a difference.  Oh yah -- and a Field Trip!


As per usual, my greenhouse operation class takes our annual field trip to Swifts Greenhouse in Marshalltown (Gilman, really, but you can't find that on the map).  They are a great company with many types of perennials and annuals in 7+ acres of greenhouses.  My students get the grand tour, see all aspects of a fully functioning - all encompassing Greenhouse production facility, and see a little bit of why we do what we do in our greenhouse.  The kids have a good time and when we are finished we pick up some plants for our greenhouse - saving our shipping costs.


So, unfortunately - I have no huge extravaganza planned, no 5 piece band set up in the commons and no tickertape parade around the halls of the school in rolling desk chairs.


I guess tomorrow will be not much different than every other day -- but after all -- Shouldn't EVERYDAY be 'Teach Ag Day'?


Some past years photo's:

Swifts Greenhouse 2.JPGSwifts Greenhouse 20.JPG

Swifts Greenhouse 08 69.JPG

Swifts tour 2007 16.JPG

Matt Eddy

Did you read this? Week #4

Posted by Matt Eddy Mar 21, 2011

Okay -- next last one.  You can't win if you don't play.


Congratulations to Wes Crawford -- it really needs no explaination.


My spring break was slow and drawn out.  Pretty relaxing.  I spent a few days with my sick 4 year old and got caught up on Curious George and assorted Pixar movies.  So I didn't get anything accomplished in my ag room, but funny enough, it was still here when I got back. 


Here you go. (and yes, they are freshman)

CASE 3.1.2 AFNR  11.JPG

I hope you all have a great spring break and enjoy the time away --- or in my case, enjoy catching up in the Ag Dept.


Congratulations to this weeks winner: Joni Fields


It's getting tougher and your getting more creative -- I love it.

Honorable Mentions to Melanie Bloom, Ellen Thompson.

Special Mention to Robin McLean for the most proper agricutural terms interspersed in her caption.


Just one winner, but they were some ones that especially got me giggling at my computer, so I guess that makes us all winners.


Here is this week's photo:

Landscape Bricks 6.JPG

Off to a running start -- let's keep it up kids.  Remember to keep it Internet appropriate.


Congratulations to last weeks winner: (Drumroll) Julie Fritsch.


Julie is a winner of a fantastic SE Polk FFA T-shirt -- just email my your size and mailing address to send the shirt.




Now for next weeks picture and I look forward to reading the captions.


Remember -- we will only do this for the month of March.  Get your entries in soon - I have lots of great prizes in the back of my closets.


2006 County Fair 35.JPG

Matt Eddy

Did you read this? Week #1

Posted by Matt Eddy Mar 1, 2011

I'm bored -- Let's play a game.  Each week during March, I will (try) to post a picture that you can reply with creative captions too.


I would tell you there would be a prize for the best caption, but I would be lying.  Frankly, you should just enjoy the fun, not be so competitive.


Tell you what -- I will scrounge something up here to award the best caption -- I changed my mind -- sue me.  My game, my rules.


Have fun ---  Remember - hit reply and leave your most creative (and appropriate) caption.


Week #1

2006 Floriculture CDE 16.JPG

Matt Eddy

The Power of Blue

Posted by Matt Eddy Feb 24, 2011

Happy National FFA week.


Our State Wrestling finals were recently moved forward one week, so FFA week doesn't get shadowed by that any longer.  So my perspective on National FFA week is slowly changing, now that we get a full week to celebrate.  (To say wrestling is big in Iowa is an understatement -- Mt. Everest is a slight hill type of thing).


We had some of the typical things this week and my students were pretty excited.  Our breakfast for the staff was probably the biggest deal and I am now glad that's over.  Biscuits and Gravy -- a perennial favorite at this school, and we had a nice turn out.

2011 Sub-Districts 15.JPGStaff Breakfast 12.JPG


Several National FFA week revelations:

  • My school resource officers (police-folks stationed at school) were in FFA or from small town next to my hometown.  Crazy.

  • Kids always come hungry to school -- or maybe their just growing.  My extra biscuits and gravy were gone very quickly.  Students were still asking about it the hour before lunch....

  • Horticulture Labs conducted the day of our faculty breakfast are not always the best idea.

  • Some Sub-District FFA contests advanced to Districts making some freshman very excited; some didn't, making some seniors disappointed.

  • I channeled 'IRV' for the first time in my life while scoring a CDE contest.  Is it old age that makes me cranky or just a disturbance in the FFA Force?

  • When I want to go to school early, my (personal) kids decide they are sleepy instead of waking meup.  Waking up staring eye-to-eye with an excited 4 year old on Saturday morning at 5 am is a love/hate relationship.  But THURSDAY morning sleep-in's the day of the faculty breakfast are just as annoying.

  • Had several former students/members stop me the last couple weeks to say how much they enjoyed reading about our program.  Kinda makes you feel good about all the time spent in the trenches.


Enjoy the week and I hope the power of Big Blue becomes evident in your dealings; this week or any other.

Okay -- not really.  But it could have been close...


Putting the finishing touches on a really hectic week.  Why are the ones with the least amount of teaching the most amount of work?


We participated in the 2011 Iowa Beef Expo (which is finishing up this weekend) Livestock judging contest.  I think the kids had a good time - pictures below.  We hosted the reasons out at the high school and I KNOW those kids had fun.  It looked to the untrained eye like a herd of schizophrenics robbed an RCC Western Store and were settled around our commons talking to themselves and gesturing wildly....

2011 Beef Expo 42.JPG

2011 Beef Expo 1.JPG


Horticulture had several labs, and Project Cupid went over well.  The kids arranged vases of dozen roses to sell to the staff members at the school at a fantastic savings.  Just tryin' to help out during these tough economic times.

Project Cupid 2011 16.JPG

Project Cupid 2011 5.JPG


Fetal Pig dissection in Animal science - CASE happened last week.  WE have moved into the circulatory system this week after looking at all the systems during that lab.

4.3.2 Fetal Pig 2011 03.JPG



PT Conferences were held, Monday and tonight and the only benefit to missing the State Wrestling tournament today and tomorrow is that we have no school on Friday.


Last thought for the day: Let the race be run, but when it's done -- let's all remember to have some fun. (I don't know --- seriously, I could fall outta my chair at any moment)


My 16 ton is about done this week --- hope yours is too.

Matt Eddy

Preg Check 2011

Posted by Matt Eddy Feb 4, 2011

After several rescheduling's due to Vet Schedules, winter snow storms, a small solar flair - we finally got to check the ALC cows for pregnancy for the Iowa State Fair in early August 2011.

ALC 2011 Preg Check 16.JPG


Having a student managed herd is pretty cool -- but is also pretty crazy.  If you think about what you do already, put on managing 23 cows / calves, but instead of you working it -- delegate all the responsibility to a class of 20 students.  My cell phone gets a workout, I tell you.  I also recall now why my dad got perturbed when I would just say the 'cows were fine'.  I have reaped what I have sown 20 fold.  Each text message after chores is a variation of that all encompassing, yet non-descript description of the cows condition.  SIGH  -  I guess that's why I pull down the big bucks (Sarcasm)

ALC 2011 Preg Check 43.JPG


We had a really good day.  The kids are becoming more proficient operating the PALCO all-in-one tub and frankly, it's a godsend.  Student safety was always my biggest worry, since most aren't that comfortable or knowledgeable about cattle handling yet, and the one thing that this tub almost alleviates.

ALC 2011 Preg Check 73.JPG


My special thanks goes to the elementary school around the corner who let us come in to warm up for lunch.  The 8 degree weather with a small breeze made for a slightly chilly day.  Some of my students got a real kick out of seeing their old teachers and it looked like the feeling was mutual.

ALC 2011 Preg Check 33.JPG


Report card was pretty good.  11 pregnant, 11 open, and 1 too close to call right now.  The kids will get another chance to palpate in May as we determine some due-dates and prepare for the impending parturition at the State Fair.  I will say that 3 cows were open last year, turned up open this year and have probably seen their last State Fair from the Animal Learning Center perspective.  So I don't count them against the kids' total.  50-60% is a realistic figure, but we sure would like to see it improve.  I guess maybe a B for effort.  But with A+ kids, we may give them another shot.

ALC 2011 Preg Check 50.JPG


Thanks are in order for some folks who make this learning opportunity available: Iowa State Fair and Emily Brewer-ISF Ag Ed Coordinator; SE Polk Advisory Committee, including Don Timmins, Chair; the Southeast Polk School Board; and our administration who's support, initiative, and excitement over this experiential learning opportunity is clearly shown.

ALC 2011 Preg Check 68.JPG

Catch you on the next drive; and next time - bring some warmer boots -- ME


Find more at twitter - @AgEd4ME or on Facebook at Southeast Polk FFA

Matt Eddy

Pork and Beans

Posted by Matt Eddy Jan 26, 2011

Which is really what Iowa is all about....


Boy, time flies while your having fun.  I can't hardly believe we are almost to February and I haven't even started working on January yet.... ha ha.


Rocking out to some Twisted Sister this AM, so if this train goes off the rails, you now know why....


Ms. Blakely started her student teaching picking up my An Sci class (CASE) and is having a great time with them.  The students have always been very accomidating and I am always proud of their flexibility in the whole student teaching process.  We have great facilities and supportive administration.  The only downside is she has to listen to me for 14 weeks...


Been busy with CASE courses -- Teaching AFNR and ASA this year.  Pretty nifty stuff and I wish I could get everything set the way I want it.  I guess patience is a virtue... just not one I come by easily.  And for a farm kid who waits 6 months to see success in most instances - that's probably saying something.  Education sure is a slow boat when it comes to change....

AFNR 3.2 02.JPGAFNR 3.2 14.JPG


Delivered a USDA SPECA grant to develop CASE programming in Iowa and across the nation on Friday.  Melanie Bloom (Ag Ed in Bloom) and I worked on that.  Our partnership involved beauty and brains... and as you probably surmised already; she has them both....  It was a distinct honor to work with her, and now we sit and wait to see what will happen.  If it comes thru, we will be able to host 4 CASE institutes, with equipment money for all attendees over the course of a couple years.  Very exciting when we start thinking about how that would impact Ag Education across the grant scope.  Eh, I'm counting chickens again...


So if I were burning the candle hot before, I kicked the blowtorch on the last 6 weeks or so.... Which reminds me -- Is this really February already??  CDE Contests to prep, Application for Iowa degree's, National Chapter, proficiencies, officer books, DO interviews due on February 1st, - we attended Legislative Symposium yesterday and spent some time with our elected officials.  Taking kids to the Iowa Pork Expo tomorrow for Livestock Eval contest and career show.  Preg Check cows next week.  Should be a good time - I would be satisfied with 50%, as I have seen one or two bulling since we AI'd them.


FFA members did an excellent recruitment visit to the Middle School Friday while i was infirmed last week.  I hear they had a great turn out.  I guess Friday I may be able to see some numbers and see if the largest program in the state (us) can get a second teacher... I'm hoping for my sanity, YES.


I doubt your schedule (if you take some time to read this) isn't any different than mine.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  Remember to take some time for you and yours - and sharpen the saw every once in a while.


Remember kids(at least in Iowa), make it thru February and all runs are downhill from here.  Follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME

Matt Eddy

Hoist the main sail

Posted by Matt Eddy Jan 3, 2011

Whether restful or not, I hope this finds everyone back in the groove and making things happen in the new year.  As we come about (jibe ho!) for the new year I can't help but reflect a little on the goods and the not-so-goods - count some blessings and see what I have in store for the new year.  We seldom find time to reflect as ag teachers -- we are always moving forward to the 'new thing'; it's nice to be able to think in the quite of a school poised on the new semester ... tomorrow.



  • Peter Frampton on my playlist (Sorry, just what popped up this moment - but I do like me some Frampton)

  • The Animal Learning Center cows are going along well -- looking forward to preg-check next month.  The proof will definitely be in the pudding.

  • CASE - it's nice change to the pace of life around here and the better execution of it will only be enhanced as we go along.

  • Kids (er... students) - they make this thing enjoyable and unbearable in sequential moments and not in that order necessarily.

    • Not sure if I have arrived or not, but my Advanced Animal Science students created a facebook page in their exuberance over getting back to school and taking the class.  Some healthy one-ups-manship is going on with the students from last year's class that are still around.   Somedays, this job ain't so bad....



  • I vow to improve my diligence in grading.  I don't know if I can ever conquer that mountain, but I resolve to work harder at it on a weekly basis.

  • Program improvement - I resolve to keep fighting the good fight and struggling to make improvements to my program in the areas that I have little to no control over.  Creating buy-in around me is a continual process that I need to continue to continue.  Dontcha know.


I look forward to having a student teaching for the third year in a row.  I think Samantha Blakley will work out well and I resolve to clean my desk while she is here.  I'll just start with my desk anyway.  See how that goes.  Goodness knows the rest of the place could use a month of Sundays to get cleaned up.


I spent this workday doing some productive things.  Two students came by to work on American Degree's, I got most of the grades put in well ahead of the 3 pm deadline.  All the shrimp seemed to survive the break and my trip to Texas.  Good students doing shrimp chores are worth their weight in gold.


All in all - I look forward to 2011 and what it will have in store.


My you keep your people in the boat and the water out of your boat; ME


If the wind is against you then start sailing against it because the wind may never change in your favor.


PS - Any of you winners out there diagnose my poinsettia problem via picture?? LOL  Post your guesses in reply to the blog.


AFNR 3.1.4 1.JPGAFNR 3.1.4 4.JPGDSC02090.JPGFruit Delivery 3.JPGGreenhouse light poinsettia 1.JPG

Matt Eddy

Ice Skating Uphill

Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 21, 2010

I should just give in and quit trying to teach until the last day of the semester (Today).  All it does is boil my oil and put stress on all the connections that hold this place together...


Silly me, I spent the last full week of the semester cramming in another unit, with tests, etc in almost all my classes.  Teach till the end, they say.  The last two days of the semester my Freshman and upperclassmen had to grade SAE books, and proficiency application's (not the full ones... yet) but just the parts of both I had assigned to be completed.  IN AUGUSTAnd gave them bits and pieces of time all throughout the semester to work on them, ask questions (practically none did), and generally have them completed.  After Thanksgiving, I had 'the talk'with them about personal responsibility and completing work that was not rigidly scheduled, but supposed to be completed on time, yada yada yada.  Continually trying to ease them along.


So the piece of cake I thought I was feeding them turned into the 'hot mess'  of the century (borrowing a new phrase from a MN, now IA friend).  Not only had many of them completed diddly, but pulled the "I didn't know what to do" card.  Horse feathers!  I ain't buyin' that today!


So instead of getting in the Christmas spirit, I was channeling the Grinch on a bad hair day for two days straight.  Sigh... Bah Humbug.


Maybe I should have just shown a video for a week or played hopscotch for that matter.... to be fair, it now looks like after I raised the rafters, almost 80% are now completed, scrambled to be done, as they did.  And the last bits I will have captive for an hour and a half to complete what they have missed after the semester tests.  PAY ME NOW, OR PAY ME LATER; BUT you will PAY ME.


Semester tests start tomorrow for two days, and I doubt the expectations I have half warily laid out there will be met either.... another sigh.


Next semester will be better.  (Aren't I the typical farmer??  "Had that flood, but next year will be better"... LOL)


I guess it can't get worse.

Matt Eddy


Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 8, 2010

Wether or not it's high practice, it is what it is.

Yesterday our fruit came in.  Today, in the midst of that chaos, I'm taking some time today for kids to work with their SAE records on the AET (Ag Experience Tracker).  It's a nice day to balance lots of different irons in the fire.  It allows me to work with kids individually, juggle the fruit issues, solve SAE interactions and even breathe a bit.  Students are updating entries, completing proficiencies, re-writing earlier entries, and putting little flags on google maps where their SAE"s are located.


Data is king, and until we as educators start taking the gathering of data seriously, it's hard for us to make headway with the decision and policy makers.  I think that our data can almost tell the ag ed story on it's own.


Some data that the AET will deliver to you. (This is still in the adoption process here at SE Polk, but the potential is out of this world)


Vender summary:

Dollars can be allocated to where they were spent -- Bass Pro, Farmers Coop, Heartland Coop, Prairie City Feed Center, etc etc.


Breakdown by Career Pathway:

Ag Business - 11%

Environ Systems - 5%

Natural Resources - 12%

Power Structure systems - 4%

Animal Science - 59%

Food Process Systems - 4%

Plant Systems - 8%


Program Summary -

Male - 45%

Female - 55%

9th Grade - 17% (still bringing them online)

10th Grade - 44%

11th Grade - 23%

12th Grade - 16%


Journal Hours so far this year (placement hours) - Jrn Hours: 2,974


And much, much more.


The more you have your students enter information that they would / should do for an SAE anyway - the better the chapter data you can get and use to better your programs.  Time to put the onus on the students for SAE success.


We have a good story to tell, and it's about time we started telling it.

As I sit here in the McCarran Airport, watching the masses stream in and out of Las Vegas, I can't help but reflect on NAAE 2010.


  • Great reward is not without risk.  Calculating and preparing for that risk is the key part.  Is the juice worth the squeeze.  We have many initiatives, pivotal positions that need hired, organizational issues needing creative problem solving, and the general state of Agriculture Education in general.  Our leaders must not let obstacles deter us from our chosen destination.  I'm intrigued to learn the results of the elections today since we were unable to stay.  Twitter me!  I hope that whomever is elected president-elect and Greg Curlin will strive to find our win-win situations, keep our needs infront of those decision makers and continually strive to improve our organization -- Keep moving forward. as my son's favorite Disney movie "Meet the Robinsons" says.


  • If you don't get a little 'skin in the game'  --- are you really playing?  Our profession needs the involvement of every member.  There may be a time in the near future where we will need to raise our collective voices to obtain what we want.  Will you be prepared to help us?  It may require an ante into the game, but it beats sitting on the sidelines watching.


  • Make plans for St. Louis in 2011 -- start letting your adminstrators know about this conference.  Find ways to make it work - I know it isn't easy and travel from your school districts is difficult  --- but the juice is definately worth the squeeze when you partake of this great association.


Oh yeah - start putting some Mason jars in the ground for Vegas in 2013.  This town is a lot of fun when you can come with few Benji's in your pocket.


Until then, may all your flushes be straight and your show tickets front and center. I'm outta here.

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